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Blimey, I’ve Got an Imagination!

I must have been standing too close to “Our ‘Enry”, head honcho of Minature Wargames with Battlegames and, who, whilst seemingly living in Brighton & Hove, is  actually (and more believably) the Grand Tomato of Prunkland and sworn enemy of um…some other naughty people who are taking part in the Wars of Faltenian Succession, a long running punch up which provides His Royal Tomatoness and his Spencer Smith figures with endless wargaming opportunities.

“Of what do you speak Clarkie, you blathering loon!” I hear you cry.  Well, somehow it seems that the planets have aligned to kick me off on yet another wargaming venture which has seized me by the enthusiastic proverbials and got my painting fingers twitching with poorly-timed enthusiasm.  How could such a thing happen to a sensible chap like me when I should be filming videos for Sharp practice?  You may well ask.  And I certainly will tell you.  Are you sitting comfortably?  Then I shall begin.

As so often is the case, this tale begins with a happy-go-lucky chap minding his own business, when into his life walks a man of magic, a character who, either knowingly or not, is about to set the unexpecting individual off on a mission of incredible proportions.  “Gandalf!” I hear you cry (with some degree of amazement), but no, this was a Wizzard more powerful, a veritable modern Merlin.  It was Mike Hobbs, the Welsh Wizzard from Meeples & Miniatures who flogged me a box of some very nice AWI troops  to supplement my own growing collection for Sharp Practice.  And when I say very nice, they were actually VERY NICE indeed.  They were from Wargames Foundry.

A long, long time ago, when the world was younger and beer was significantly cheaper, I fell in love with some Indian Mutiny figures which featured heavily in Wargames Illustrated when it was in the hands of another Wizzard, Duncan Macfarlane.  The figures concerned were, of course, by Wargames Foundry and inspired me to throw several pitch forks full of cash in their direction before I realised that I couldn’t find any rules I liked.  As such, my Madras Fusiliers languished in the loft, whilst the evil badmash leader, Ram Dittin, enjoyed only sporadic cameo roles in our games, usually as a Barbary Pirate or other random “naughty chap”.  As time passed and I moved on to projects new, Foundry seemed to somehow slip away into my sub-conscious; like a giant sleeping in my very small brain.

As I made tea in the Lard Island kitchen, the Welsh Wizzard filled his pipe with torn up strips of the Western Mail and blew smoke rings as he enthused about the the figures which were to be mine for a mere purse of silver.  But, in truth, his mission was not to sell me a few figures, it was to wake the giant and reintroduce me to a rather spiffing range of toys.  Yet, clever Wizzard that he is, his plan would not emerge in all its glory for a few weeks.  By which time he had, remarkably, disappeared without trace, his task complete.

The first step in my quest was to purchase a few packs of AWI British Line and Light Infantry to supplement the toys which I had bought.  It was a revelation to realise that the range were a perfect match for the Perry Miniatures AWI figures I had.  What was more they figures were nice to paint, with detail sufficiently pronounced to allow a ham-fisted chap like me to get a decent result.  Yet, impressed as I was, little did I suspect what was to follow.

It is true that, ever since watching Barry Lyndon, I had aspired to own some Seven Years War armies.  However, and I am sure I am not alone in this, the thought of painting hundreds and hundreds of figures was always sufficient to disperse such ideas like frightened rabbits caught in the headlights of reality.  Then Sharp Practice came along in 2008 and, for some reason, we focussed heavily on the Napoleonic Wars.  Indeed, I can only blame myself when I see that the Sharp Practice forum on the Miniatures Page is a sub-forum of the Napoleonic one, when, in truth, the rules are designed to cover a much wider period of time than that.  With the second edition of Sharp Practice, we have been enjoying a much broader smorgasbord of periods, from the middle of the 18th century through to the ACW.  Yet, even now, the penny did not drop.  Indeed, it took a trip to Durham for Wor Lard, the North East’s premier Lardy Games Day, for the true expanse of with Wizzard’s plan to be unveiled.

As part of the grand panoply of Lardy games which were on display, Dave “The Colonel” Parker was running a very attractive Kriegsspiel.  In some ways it is funny to wax lyrical about the beauty of a game played with blocks on a map, but the fact is that it is one of the most visually enthralling spectacles you can ever see, especially if you get a chance to see both players’ maps and the umpire’s map, allowing you to contrast what they *think* is going on with what is actually happening.  What was more, the Meckel Map, upon which said kriegsspiel was unfolding, was in many ways the star of the show.

In 1:8000 detail, the Meckel Map was produced in the 1870s to train Prussian Officers in the arts of their profession.   It is attractively drawn in a somewhat parochial manner which, although a piece of imaginary real estate, hints at the lives of the people who live there.  Each house, each garden, each Inn, each Schloss drawn in full detail.  It is hard not to find yourself imagining walking those streets.  Especially at the head of a rumbustious body of Freikorp seeking out an 18th century tavern and the pleasures it promises.  At last the penny dropped.  Here was a beautifully drawn period map (which I already owned) upon which to campaign.  But not the huge engagements of Frederick the Great, but the Kleiner Krieg of small bands of chaps harassing the enemy wherever they could find them.  In fact it was my own ready-made “Imagi-nation”.  “Blimus” I cried, “I never expected that”.

Here’s the big area covered by the map in its original state.  Meckel Map Web

And here’s a sample of the detail on it.  Luvverly!

Meckel Sample

PRETTY IN PINK
In truth, I had once begun a Seven Years War Army.  I bought vast quantities of Spencer Smith plastics, painted up one battalion of forty blokes and threw them in the bin.  The sight of another three hundred infantry and voluminous cavalry was too much and I went to the pub instead.  However, what I do recall is the spectacular uniforms of the period.  My Prussian infantry looked very pretty with their pink facings and the freedom to go slightly off piste with an imaginations setting was a tempting proposition.  But the project this time would be manageable, it would be with Sharp Practice and allow me to get my force painted and on the table in short order.  In an instant I had summoned up the Wargames Foundry web page, clicked on Prussian Infantry and was mulling over which would look most like Freikorps.  I wasn’t having much luck until I did a search on Google for images of Freikorps on which to base my selection.  As if by magic, there was an image of Foundry Freikorps, stuff I hadn’t been able to identify on their site, but which looked perfect.  Here’s the page which I borrowed from their web page, I hope they won’t mind me reproducing it here.

Foundry Page

What can I say.  EXACTLY what I had been seeking.  What I realised was that when I clicked on the “Prussian Infantry” tab on their web site, I was only looking at the first page of Prussian stuff.  If you look at the top right of the image above, you’ll see, in red, “next collection”.  This is the gateway I should have thought.  However, being thick, I presumed “next collection” meant “different stuff” not “more Prussians that Clarkie might be interested in”.  Thank Heavens for Google Image search.  Anyway, needless to say I found all I wanted and a telephone call to Foundry saw a box arrive almost moments later.

Now, time is precious at the moment with Sharp Practice looming large, and having finished a 36 hour solid shift I really should have gone to bed early last night, but what sort of chap retreats to the Land of Nod when there’s a spanking new parcel on the table waiting to be assaulted.  So, with a will I set about them.
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First I assembled my usual tools for cleaning up figures.  I have been fairly consistent with my figure purchases recently and one thing I have got used to is all sorts of thin wire-like flash from the casting process adorning most figures.  Indeed, all figures.  What a joy to discover that these were 99% flash free and the lightest of touches with a small file saw them readied for the paint table.

So, let’s see what I bought and why.  Sharp Practice is a large skirmish game, where the core force normally kicks off between 40 and 50 men.  I rather like the combination of three groups of one troop type supported by two of another.  It allows for some variety and is fun to game with.  In a Freikorps one has LOTS of freedom to make choices which are not a-historical.  With that in mind, here are three Groups of 8 Musketeers with a couple of Leaders.  I did consider going with all one pose, but with a skirmish game the three poses allowed me some interesting variety, especially when you realise that all the heads are different anyway and that Foundry do some really nice “Character” packs to add even more variety.

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Following on from that I bought two Groups of Croats in their swanky uniforms.  I got these onto the paint stick before I realised that I had made a real beginners error.  Namely, I only bought two Groups of 8 men.  “But you said you liked three groups plus two!” I hear you cry.  And you’re right.  But the tip from the top is ALWAYS buy your line troops in three Groups as a minimum.  Had I got a third Group of Croats I could have three Croats supported by two Musketeers, or the other way round.  Two”different” Armies for the additional purchase of 8 men.  Simples.

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Next we have the donkey wallopers.  Horse Grenadiers to be precise.  One Group of eight is a nice support option, but I also got a couple of packs of dismounted troopers as they make nice little skirmish units when hunting out chickens or spies.

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Jagers next.  A skirmish game without some form of skirmishers is rather like flat cooking lager.  It’s still lager; it’ll still do the job it’s invented to do, but you know that something is missing.  So, a couple of bags of them will provide just the little green men we like best.

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And, finally (sort of), some Prussian mounted officers.  Do you need a mounted officer?  No, but why not.

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Now, time to right wrongs.  The two Groups of Croats was a daft error, but fortunately I realised that I had forgotten to get an artillery piece.  So, without further ado, a few clicks on the Foundry web site (which I CAN now navigate around) saw me loading lots of toys and goodies on my cart.  A few Prussian Grenadiers can never go amiss…

So there we have the start of my Prussian force, all thanks to a Welsh Wizzard working his magic.  I suppose that leaves us with the dilemma, are Welsh Wizzards a force for good or evil?  To be fair, I only know one, although there was a bloke from Wrexham who sold fish on Chester Market who billed himself the “Druid from Clwyd” (bizarely, I bumped into him years later at a Eisteddfod in Bedford).  But, I think on balance his mystical, tangled-web of a project to get me back loving Foundry miniatures has been a huge success.  Over the next few weeks I shall be adding more on how this project develops.  But I do need YOUR help. Our ‘Enry seems to have bagged all of the swanky names for Imagi-nations, so I am looking for two Duchies, one in the Prussian sphere of influence, one in the Austrian.  Suggestions on the back of a gin bottle please.   Of just post them here.

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33 Responses

  1. Chuck Scholti says:

    Nothing like a new project to warm the cockles! Chuck

  2. us Welsh Wizzzzards are a neutral bunch and only exist to help people find, there way

  3. Carole says:

    Funnily enough, I’ve been putting together a list of Essex SYW 15s for Syldavia and Borduria. I am going with Austrians for Syldavia, but with French SYW dragoons, because I like their hats, and Prussians for Borduria, because I reckon that they’ll look about right.

    I am even writing up the history of the two countries in the 18th century for some context. I might post it on the Yahoo site once it is fleshed out a bit.

  4. Gene Wolotsky says:

    My Imagination project began with SP 1. Other than adding a pile of lead I didn’t get too far. Starting off with using bicorn wearing Napoleonic troops and the “going straight” for a while with Peninsula figures. I then came across the blog “Campaigns in Germania” and was hooked on the SYW. http://campaignsingermania.blogspot.com/
    So I created my two Imaginations. The “good guys”, The Kingdom of Kronenburg and their arch enemies The Confederation of the Swine.
    You may want to take a look at “Raid on St. Michel”, although meant for larger forces you may find the mini campaign concept ( similar to your CoC) interesting. This is the first in a series.
    http://www.caliverbooks.com/bookview.php?c644e9d76a6be97e673d2ff2955bcdf8&id=15128

  5. My Duchy of Elland will be on the way to invade just as soon as you’re good to go 😀

  6. Carole says:

    I just saw your request for names. How about using the names of cheeses? There are some good Austrian ones; Mondseer, Traunstein, Zillertal, Landfrisch …….

    The Duchy of Traunstein sounds OK to me.

    Unfortunately, I can’t find any Prussian cheeses, although Wikipedia tells me that there is a kind of pancake from Brandenburg called Plinsen.

  7. Dom says:

    Surely one of your duchies has to be Anheuser-Busch…?

  8. Steve Burt says:

    The Prussian Electorate should surely be named after Winter Cabbage; nothing else will grow on those bleak plains.
    Years ago when I did some Imagi-nations stuff the ‘Prussians’ were represented by the Electorate of Lowenbrau-Pils, and the ‘Austrians’ by the Grand Duchy of Schnapps.

  9. Chris says:

    The Grand Duchy of Smalz or Sclmalz if you prefer…. invading the Duchy of Hystyria.

  10. Stephen says:

    When I lived in Austria, I always thought the beer names would make great imagi-nation names. Here are a few I came up with: Puntigam-Gösser, Schwecat-Seidl, Ottakring-Stiegl.

    As for Prussians, were it my army, it would have to be Bärenfang-Steinhagen.

    Feel free to use/dismiss as you choose.

  11. David Scott says:

    There’s also Zlobenia, Borogravia, Lancre and Uberwald to borrow from the late Sir terry Pratchett

  12. I think this page on Eastern European beers may aid your qeust to find some names http://www.ratebeer.com/Ratings/TopEasternEurope.asp

    Kormoran Imperium is a perfect one I think

  13. Der Alte Fritz says:

    Cheese and whiskey make for good Imagination names and leaders. My Jacobite army of the Forty Five is led by the Earl of Talisker and I have a Clan Laphroig in the army. The French have le Duc de Camembert, of course, and le Comte de Drambuie.

    For the Germans, just add either “Hesse” or “Saxe” as a prefix to any other name. I live in a town called Lake Forest, so my Imagination became Hesse Seewald (Lake Forest in German).

  14. Steve Burt says:

    Years ago when I did some Imag-nations stuff the ‘Prussians’ were the Electorate of Lowenbrau-Pils and the ‘Austrians’ were the Grand Duchy of Schnapps.

  15. I look forward to see what you come up with. What about the Dutchy of Anholt for the Prussian sphere and something that is mostly consonants with an odd Y thrown in for the other.

  16. Carole says:

    There is a town in Poland called Sztum. It is situated in the old medieval Prussian lands, parts of which became absorbed by Poland in the 15th and 16th centuries. The German name is Stuhm.

    The Duchy of Stuhm sounds good to me, but it’s probably best not to talk about it.

  17. Jon says:

    There is Tilsit Carole

  18. Phil Taylor says:

    A selection from Hofmeister, Holsten, Pilsner, Lowenbrau, Grolltz etc Perhaps trying a pint or two of each as a precursor to making a decision?

  19. Ironically, while I am buying SP 2 for ImagiNation Colonials, it’s your posts on the AWI that have really fired my (small i) imagination. I’ve never had any interest in AWI gaming at all but this post plus the SP2 AARs have me re-thinking. I fear it’s but a small step from there to SYW. And then that in turn would fuel the colonials gaming — I could end up with an ImagiNation history from 1750 – 1900.

    Oh, geez — and then CoC Fighting Season would do the post-colonial period. I might end up with an entire alternative history. I love it!

  20. Jimbo says:

    I like the idea of A play on Herzog Schmalz and how about Kochenbier (Cooking lager?

  21. Carole says:

    Jon, yes, Tilsit. It is where Napoleon and Tsar Alexander signed a treaty, isn’t it?

  22. You Freikorps commander looks like the twin brother of my Prinz Pils of 1787 fame. Surely a beer-themed duchy would work splendidly. I just had a Korbinian (Weihenstephaner), maybe that helps?

  23. Peter says:

    Surely the ancient and venerable Duchy of Schmalz is a candidate?

  24. Jim Hale says:

    Slippery slope Clarkie… that’s all I’m saying. 😉

    Names huh?

    Schyttengröhn, Steierklier, (Bad) Kötzenhatz, Pilsner, Pfartküchen, Badenhof… and the unprintable ones. There are also real places like Rimsting, Wankdorf, Petting and Großhardern.

    I have to say having a Graf von Rimsting, or a Hertzog von Pfartküchen gets my vote.

  25. Henry says:

    Wot? A Lardy playing imagi-nations? Good grief, whatever next, can’t be countenanced, will send a report to His Maj in Biebersfurt post-haste and assemble an expeditionary force of Spencer Smiths to sort this out. Yours explodingly, Generalmajor von Hauptzeige.

  26. Rusty says:

    How bout the Duchy of Wildflecken? I was stationed here years ago when there was an East German border. It’s a small town in Northern Bavaria. Only trouble would be one must be careful pronouncing it after a few libations! 😉

  27. Paul Jeune says:

    The Duchy of Lardonia? (with his palace on an island in a lake somewhere behind the mountains of Werck)

    The Landgraviate of Schnitt, (This is Bavarian pub language for the last drink. Not a full or half llitre which may take too long to drink but a generous quarter litre. And you only pay for the quarter!)

    The March of Bad Heurigen, ( Heurigen is the Austrian name for wine taverns)

    The Duchy of Ksekrainer, (Viennese slang for a ‘cheesy sausage’).

    Don’t you just love the interweb? I put ‘Bavarian pub language’ into Google and, sure enough, there is a website of that name!

  28. Ludger Fischer says:

    Do yourself a favour and make it at least sound German –

    An old (70s) Tc serie had “Attenburg-Talheim” which after a lot of intrigiue went down to the invading Frencch republic.

    A varaint of the Braunschweig theme fighting alongside the Prussians could be Braunfels –
    https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Braunfels#/media/File:Braunfels_De_Merian_Hassiae.jpg
    https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Braunfels#/media/File:Braunfels_Schloss.jpg
    just the sight of it could be wotrh an Imagi-nation.

    My hunch would be beer rivals – Warstein for the Prussians, (Sachsen-)Radeberg for the Austirans.
    though if you go for sheer volume – Krombavh (for Prussia) and Oettingen (for Habsburg) would out sell them – 😉

    FWIW- To face off the French “Corps du Vin” – our Imperial Regiments would have been named after sausages… 😀

  29. Ludger Fischer says:

    make that Krombach – sorry for mistyiping it

  30. Ludger Fischer says:

    May I ask, why a post of mine is “awaiting moderation?

    Ludger

  31. Big Rich says:

    Not a clue. All of your posts seem to be on display.

  32. Ludger Fischer says:

    Yes – they are now.

    The first on was “awaiting moderation” the last time I checked yesterday.

    Maybe for the use of links?

  33. Andrew McGuire says:

    My imagination project has progressed little beyond settling on the name of the dastardly commander of a francophone force, the rapacious and unscrupulous Comte de Fourtiquet. The uniforms of his army are declared obsolete after every campaigning season, requiring ever-more expensive replacements, for which, by dint of a stranglehold on the clothing industry, his family happens to have the exclusive contract. For reasons not fully understood, he also appears to be irreplaceable in spite of a military record most charitably described as ‘undistinguished’.

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